Hip Replacement Surgery
It might be necessary for you to have a hip replacement if one (or both) of your hip joints becomes damaged and causes you persistent pain or problems with everyday activities such as walking, driving and getting dressed. Some common reasons why a hip joint can become damaged include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or a hip fracture.
There are two types of anaesthetic that may be offered for a hip replacement: general anaesthetic (where you are asleep during the operation), or an epidural anaesthesia (where an injection is given into your spine that numbs the lower half of your body). Your surgeon will talk you through each option and advise which is best.
Surgery usually lasts for around 2 hours. During surgery, the upper part of the thigh bone (femur) is removed and a short, angled metal shaft with a smooth ball on its upper end is placed into the end of the thigh bone. The new socket is fitted into a hollow in the pelvis, and the ball then placed within the new socket. There are different types of prosthesis and the one your surgeon chooses will be based on several factors such as your age, your level of activity and your current condition.
After surgery, you will usually be in hospital for around three to five days. The staff will help you to get up and walk about as quickly as possible after surgery. A physiotherapist will usually visit you the day after your operation and at regular intervals afterwards. They will give you specific exercises to help your recovery. You may feel some pain but this will ease as the area heals. You may also be given an injection into your abdomen to help prevent blood clots forming in your legs, and possibly a short course of antibiotics to help prevent infection.
Generally, you should be able to stop using crutches or a stick within four to six weeks and feel more or less normal after three months, by which time you should be able to perform all your normal activities.
What are the risks?
As with any surgery there can be complications:
- Infection of the wound
- Blood clots (DVT)
- Difficulty passing urine
- Chest infection
- Heart attack
Specific complications of hip revision might include:
- Split in the femur
- Nerve damage around the hip
- Damage to the blood vessels around the hip
- Infection in the hip
- Loosening of the replacement
- Bone forming in muscles around the replacement
- Leg length difference
Your surgeon will advise how any risks apply to you.